We ultrarunners can sometimes forget about how much our addictions impact those around us. Sure, we endure some serious physical and mental beatings, but we cmust keep in mind that our families can go through similar struggles when dealing with us. In this guest post from my wife, she takes a humorous approach to describing the “stages” you go through when you live with an ultrarunner.
The Kubler-Ross “Five Stages of Grief” model is usually applied to a person who is suffering a traumatic life event. Being an UltraSpouse may not be considered “traumatic,” but I swear I have experienced the five stages of Ultra grief.
Sweet, sweet denial. In my head, it went something like: “It was only a 50k, but look how torn up he is! He won’t want to do a 50 miler any time soon. Maybe never!” I was so naive. The distances got longer, the races got more frequent, and, before I knew it, our whole family was sucked in and loving it. Even our littlest girl has done a trail race.
Oh man. The angry thoughts I have had! The ridiculous fights I have started! I confess that I still get angry sometimes… Like when URJ is HOURS off of his projected time, and I have no way of knowing whether he is ok, or dead, and I am worried-worried-worried, and I make myself sick (and angry!) from all of that worrying, and I am trying to keep our kids from staging a mutiny (or running off to find him themselves), and that makes me angry, and then he rolls up to the finish line in the DNF-mobile, and I have to immediately swallow that anger, and go back to plain worry and support. Because he has suffered enough, and is going to torture himself mentally for weeks and months to come. But I need a massage, y’all. And someone please bring me my tequila. I’m gonna take a rest day.
I could probably handle a hostage negotiation, given the amount of bargaining I have done in the last five years. It was ugly at first– I would not have trusted me with lives on the line. Over time, I developed some ground rules (ex. a training run cannot be so taxing that URJ is unable to help with the normal parenting/chores when he gets home), and now the bargaining is easy. Because, compromise. And tequila.
Once upon a time, I was the more active spouse. I convinced URJ to join me in some of my fitness endeavors, promptly got pregnant with our youngest (which is what I get for spending all of that extra time with URJ), and slowed down considerably. Meanwhile, URJ became, well, URJ. When I woke up from the fog of pregnancy/early infant days, he was pretty far gone. I wanted to get back in shape, but it was difficult to carve out time for myself, and URJ was not helpful at all. The jerk. He “had to train” for his races. So, after some anger, and a whole lot of bargaining, not to mention tequila, I realized that I should just sign up for a race myself. “I have to train” is apparently the language that URJ understands. Which brings me to…
I tried to deny, got angry, bargained, wallowed in depression, but finally accepted that the chubby, teddy-bear-like man I married has been replaced by an ultrarunner. And you know what I’ve realized? Our life together is pretty rad. I wouldn’t change any of it.
But… Next time you see me at a finish line, I wouldn’t say “no” to a beer. Or, tequila. I really do love tequila.